Preparer Tax Identification Numbers, or PTINs, are how the IRS knows the accounting firm or CPA submitting the return on behalf of their clients is—well, kosher—and has passed necessary exams and got their fingers dirty so to speak during the fingerprinting process. Although the Accounting Web article says the IRS may be stopping PTIN usage “as early as April 19, 2012," I found the opposite information in an article in Accounting Today (Cohn). The writer provided a link to IRS Notice 2011-80, which discusses PTIN renewal and nowhere in the Notice does it say PTINs will cease (see link to Notice in Reference section).
In any event, Thompson disliked ceasing the use of PTINs and says of the stoppage of PTINs, “The discontinuance of provisional PTINs will result in the need to have supervised employees ‘on the bench’ and unable to prepare returns under CPA supervision for the period of time associated with the processing of the PTIN application and meeting related requirements." Confused? Me too! At first, it appears in the Accounting Web article that PTIN issuing may be stopped, but then Thompson talks about what is contained in Notice 2011-80; there is a process from the time one applies for a PTIN and because it’s a government agency, a lapse in time before the PTIN is received.
So, what Thompson is saying here (I think) is that perhaps there needs to be a shorter time between applying and obtaining the required PTIN. She urges the delay in obtaining PTINs would mean “...interns, et. (who are) are not supposed to be performing certain services during the pendency of the PTIN application process will negatively impact a CPA firm’s ability to do business."
Here, I disagree with Thompson. I want tax preparers of all kinds to get a PTIN! If they aren’t forced to, what’s the point of paying them to prepare our tax returns—we can make mistakes on our own right?
In addition, I think if an accounting firm hires someone new and they are awaiting their PTIN, they should be supervised, much like law firms do when awaiting the passage of the bar on their new hires.
This is simply the right thing to do all around. We surely don’t want a firm popping up like “Dewey Cheatam and Howe" with no PTIN to show right?